The eurozone is showing tentative signs of improvement, the latest monthly readout from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed on Monday.
The OECD’s leading indicator, a measure that seeks to flag turning points in economic activity, rose for the eurozone area in January and also turned positive in Britain, adding 0.2 percentage points in the common currency bloc and 0.1 percentage points in Britain.
Improvements detected in previous months in the United States and Japan continued, with rises respectively of 0.7 and 0.5 percentage points in January, the Paris-based economic think tank said in a statement.
“The United States and Japan continue to drive the overall position but stronger, albeit tentative, signals are beginning to emerge within all other major OECD economies and the Euro area as a whole,” it said.
Brazil and China, however, still showed signs of weakening, said the OECD, which reported a 0.6-point drop for China and 0.2-point drop for Brazil in January.
The OECD grouping of more than 30 mostly industrialised nations said its measure rose for a third straight month in January, this time by 0.4 points, marginally more than the rises of the previous months.
Eurozone finance ministers will sign off on a second bailout for Greece on Monday and shift their focus to Spain, whose government looks set to violate newly agreed EU budget rules by missing its deficit target again this year. Greece, the bloc’s original problem debtor, swapped its privately held bonds at the weekend for new, longer maturity paper with less than half the nominal value, slashing more than 100 billion euros ($130 billion) from its debt.
The swap paves the way for eurozone ministers to give the final go-ahead to a 130-billion-euro package to finance Athens until 2014, after they decided on Friday that Greece — its economy shrunk by repeated austerity measures — had met all their conditions.
But as Greece’s financial problems have lost some urgency, Spain has raised a new challenge. After announcing the previous government had missed its 2011 budget deficit target by a significant margin, the new administration added it would not meet the EU-agreed deficit goal for this year either.
“Spain will be subject to serious discussion today, both because of the method and the substance of their announcement,” said one euro zone official involved in preparing for the ministers’ discussions. Spain, the euro zone’s fourth biggest economy, was quick to impose austerity measures to protect itself from the euro debt crisis.